America is about to experience the highs and lows of executive orders in the coming weeks as Donald Trump takes over for Barack Obama. We’ll see the high points of Trump reversing or restricting many of the actions that Obama took that sidestepped the governmental process and attempted to expand the already-obtuse executive powers that have accumulated over the last 150 years. We’ll then immediately see the low points as Trump utilizes the same overreach to enact many of the things that he wants to accomplish.
The temporary nature of national government “solutions” is not isolated to the executive branch. We expect (hope) to see a reversal of the Affordable Care Act in the next 1-3 years. Think about that for a moment. Obamacare was monumental on multiple levels. It was a gigantic economic plan (don’t let anyone tell you it was about healthcare) that pushed us as close as the nation has been to embracing socialism. The sheer mass of the actual documents detailing Obamacare were huge; at over 11 million words, it’s the same size as 10,000 articles like the one you’re reading now. Its effects were felt by tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of businesses. As for the legislative process, it required a full Presidential term and countless man-hours of our government to produce, sell, pass, defend in the courts, and protect in Congress.
After all of this effort, it likely won’t survive its first decade of existence. In fact, there are still provisions of Obamacare that weren’t even ready to be rolled out until as late as 2022. The Affordable Care Act will likely be dead or hobbled before it has fully taken effect. The sad part is that we’re looking at the best-case-scenario for the monstrosity. If Hillary Clinton had won and Obamacare had been allowed to mature, we may not have made it as a nation to see the 2024 election.
If it sounds like I’m complaining about the fickle nature of government, I’m not. This is how things were supposed to be. One might wonder why I believe the founders would have wanted something so wasteful like Obamacare to essentially take over a huge portion of our government’s attention and economic engagement only to be ditched so quickly. Understanding this perspective requires a basic comprehension of the Constitution. The founders never intended for the federal government to get involved in our lives, businesses, and economic freedoms the way that Obamacare required. They allowed for relatively swift reversals of actions because they wanted the federal government to only get involved when it absolutely needed to be. National defense is an example of such required federal involvement. Health insurance mandates should never have been allowed to qualify.
Back to Trump. His administration has been hinting at executive orders pertaining to multiple topics such as immigration, education, and the environment. Republicans will say that these orders will be justifiable because swift action is required to undo what Obama did while laying down a roadmap for the GOP Congress to follow. By saying these things, they’re embracing the same types of arguments that Democrats were using throughout Obama’s Presidency. The overreach that Republicans opposed with Obama is the same overreach they’re starting to embrace with Trump.
Let’s be very clear about one thing: the concepts of shrinking the national government and defending personal freedoms shine lights on the only true path to solving America’s problems in both the short- and long-term. This is why I’m participating in forming the Federalist Party in the first place. Obamacare didn’t fail because it was a bad idea. There are many bad ideas that have lasted for decades. Obamacare failed because it took the government into a realm where it didn’t belong. Unlike most Federalists, I’m not one who believes that the free market economy is perfect and would easily fix the problems that have existed in the healthcare industry for years. Free market economics is the best solution by far when it comes to healthcare and insurance, but it’s not perfect.
It requires limited involvement by the government in order to protect against certain loopholes, but here’s the catch. Those limits should almost invariably come from the states. Like education, marriage, and most other things that Obama and previous Presidents inserted themselves into in the past (don’t forget who formed the EPA in the first place), healthcare should have almost no restrictions at the federal level. That’s not the standard cop-out of “let the states decide.” It’s a concerted belief that every state has different needs, financial situation, and business dynamics to allow them a better perspective than DC. The only involvement from the national government should be lightly regulating the righteous interstate nature of a better system. It’s ironic that crossing state lines, which currently isn’t allowed, should have been the only trigger to bring federal involvement to play in the first place.
Here’s the problem that conservatives now face. Their very nature has been embedded with the tenets of Federalism since Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon led minor revivals of the concepts. Reagan in particular believed in reducing government’s budget, bureaucracy, and power. It’s a shame that he wasn’t able to do more due in large part to deals he had to make with Congress in order to promote his other agendas. Still, his vision of “new Federalism” continued as an unfulfilled dream for nearly three decades. What we’ve seen in recent years and what we expect to see with Trump is a shift away from small-government federalism as something that many conservatives embrace. The excitement of Republicans having the power across the board combined with Trump’s natural leanings towards unchallenged decisions as CEO of multiple organizations has allowed many conservatives to conveniently forget the goal of reducing government overreach. They’ll hear of some regulations getting slashed and departments being hamstrung. These will be counted as enough to justify the extra-constitutional actions Trump intends to take.
As the GOP justifies big-government overreach, we are reminded that the party is no longer following the vision of Reagan. As many conservatives adjust their perspectives to embrace “acceptable” government overreach, it’s becoming more clear that the movement is leaving many of us behind. This is why small-government Federalism is so important. The only way solutions can work and stick is if more of them come from state, county, and local governments.